My dad was a member of what some people refer to as the Greatest Generation – those men and women who fought in World War II. He was a true patriot and a gentleman. He passed away five years ago, and I miss his quirky humor and wisdom every single day.
Tomorrow, on 11-11-16, we celebrate Veterans Day. I have posted this piece before, but I am posting it again with added information to honor my dad and all the men and women who have served in the military and those who continue to do so. We also remember those who bravely fought and sacrificed their lives to keep our country safe.
My dad served in the Army Air Corps as First Lieutenant, navigating B-29 bombers and was a member of the 505thBombardment Group based on Tinian Island. He was there during the time Tinian Island served as the base for the Enola Gay, the B-29 aircraft that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
When we were growing up, he rarely talked about his service. I had the feeling he wanted to distance himself from those years. After my mother died, he began telling the family about his time served in the Army Air Corps. He especially wanted the grandkids to know the history of that period. Here are some of his experiences and memories.
My dad flew bombing missions and searched for survivors after B-29 bombers were shot down. He mined Tokyo Bay and Shimonoseki Strait. After the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, this is what my dad remembers hearing from a crew member of the Enola Gay: “We dropped something. There was a big cloud. We got out of there!”
My dad’s last mission of the war was to blow up railroad yards. The first people to go home from the Islands were the mechanics. Those who were left behind had to maintain their own planes. My dad’s plane had to land in Hawaii to refuel. Good thing because it ran out of fuel on the runway!
After my dad passed away, we cleared out his house. We found a treasure trove of items from his military days inside his army trunk. Like my mother, he kept EVERYTHING! Those remaining members of the 484th Squadron might recognize some of the pictures I’ve included below.
Navigation School Graduation Booklet
Bracelet and Physical Record Card
Love Letters Written to my Mother
Radar Plotting Chart
Realities of War
War is nasty. We are fortunate to have men and women who are willing to protect our country from those who would destroy the freedom we enjoy. Remember to honor and thank all of our veterans today and every day!
If you know of anyone who served in World War II and is still alive, talk to them and write down their stories to preserve for future generations. The Veterans History Project is an excellent way to learn more about our veterans.
Here’s a great picture book to help young readers learn about America’s Armed Forces: H is for Honor: A Military Family Alphabet written by Devin Scillian and illustrated by Victor Juhasz (Sleeping Bear Press, 2011)